There’s a diesel engine in a Focus ST for the first time. Matt Kimberley takes a spin to see whether the ST TDCi is worthy of its illustrious – and often mad – forebears.
Shock, horror! Ford has put a diesel engine in the Focus ST for the first time. Is it the end of performance Fords as we know them?
The engine in question is a tuned-up version of the same 2.0-litre one you’ll find elsewhere in the Focus range, so it’s far from being any sort of race-bred or sports-inspired motor. Instead, it gives Ford’s hatchback standard bearer low running costs for the first time ever.
Looks and image
Here’s an eyebrow-raiser for the purists: there are no visual differences between this and the full-fat 247bhp petrol-engined hooligan-mobile. You also get the same choice of colours.
The petrol Focus ST has earned a reputation as a bit of a lout and we love it for that. It’s not the most powerful hot hatch but every one of its horses runs riot at the first chance. The diesel simply can’t walk the same walk, but its styling talks the talk.
Space and practicality
If you’re desperately scratching for ways to make a case to your better half in favour of buying an ST, you could technically argue that the lowered suspension makes it easier to get bags in and out of the boot.
Rejoice, for the awful dashboard of the previous model has been replaced with a much neater setup, divided into three sections covering audio, heating and infotainment. The latter comes courtesy of an eight-inch touch-screen.
Behind the wheel
The diesel pulls hard out of bends through second and third, tugging at the steering wheel even in the dry, but soon, from the gloriously figure-hugging front seats, you realise you’ve reached its limits. It’s good fun.
And when you press on along a twisty road you get a glimpse of its impressive balance and outright cross-country potential.
It makes more sense as a fast cruiser, where its more laid-back engine dynamics and stable chassis gobble up miles like kids unleashed upon free chocolate.
Value for money
Buying diesel brings you a road tax bill of a piffling £20 per year. And if you’re as gentle as a breeze in Toytown in your dealings with the throttle, you could get 67mpg.
On the other hand the diesel is exactly the same price as the petrol, making even the top-spec ST-3 a very tempting £25,995 – a good chunk cheaper than its rivals.
Who would buy one?
The petrol ST is for out-and-out thrill-seekers. The sort of people who enjoy bungee-jumping over shark-infested waters while drinking black market tequila. The diesel is designed for people who want the ST’s looks and a measure of the performance, but with running costs that are much less likely to cause heart problems. This car summed up in a single word: Proteus.
If this car was a…: bakery showpiece it would be a three-tier, ultra-indulgent iced fruit cake but with half the fat.